Elaine Spires Smith Family History Writing Award

The following announcement was written by the Indiana Genealogical Society:

The Indiana Genealogical Society is proud to announce John P. Deeben, Genealogy Archives Specialist at the National Archives, as the 2015 Elaine Spires Smith Family History Writing Award recipient for his article, “Marching Towards Tippecanoe: Indiana Militia Service During the Wabash Expedition, 11 September to 24 November, 1811.” This article was published in the September 2014 issue of Indiana Genealogist, a quarterly publication of the Indiana Genealogical Society. A $500 contribution has been made to the National Archives Trust Fund in honor of John and his work.

Ruth C. Bishop, R.I.P.

The genealogy community recently lost an enthusiastic genealogist and benefactor. Ruth Chauncey Bishop passed away May 28 at the age of 70.

Ruth helped support several genealogy organizations, including the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Ruth was honored when the society’s sixth floor reading room in Boston was named for her. She served on the Society’s Board of Trustees for six years.

World War II Spitfire Pilot Takes His Legacy Online

What will people know about you after you die? Some people are going a step further, and creating a virtual “shoeboxes” of family photographs, love letters, marriage certificates, priceless video clips and key documents, in an attempt to preserve their most precious memories.

One such person is Brian Bird, a former World War II Spitfire pilot who has lived a long, exciting – and at times terrifying – life. Now, at the age of 90, he is embarking on one of his most important missions, to create a digital record for his family to remember him by after his death.

Scottish Genealogist Dr Bruce Durie Receives Prestigious Fulbright Award

The following announcement was written by the Fulbright Commission:

Dr. Bruce Durie, internationally recognized as one of Scotland’s top genealogists, has been granted the prestigious Fulbright Scottish Studies Scholar Award. This will enable him to spend seven months research and teaching at an American University, on one of the most prestigious and selective scholarship programmes operating world-wide.

Dr. Durie will be researching Lowland Scots migration to the Carolinas, and teaching classes on Scottish Genealogy, Culture and History at St Andrews University, Laurinburg, North Carolina, from January to July 2016.

Commenting on receiving the award, Dr. Durie said:

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fulfill a longstanding ambition. So much of Scottish-American migration is told in terms of the Highland and the Ulster Scots. But Lowlanders probably predominated in the early days of the settlement of that part of America, and subsequently.

Robert “Bob” John Szucs, R.I.P.

Bob Szucs was well known within the genealogy community. He traveled to dozens of genealogy conferences with his wife Lou Szucs who is a popular genealogy lecturer, writer, board member of many organizations over the years, and recently retired as a vice president of She was Employee #1 at Ancestry, having started with the small book publisher some time before it ever launched its first web site.

Bob Szucs usually stayed in the background when accompanying his wife to genealogy events but a few of us got to know this quiet and modest man. He and a few others, myself included, had a tradition of “ducking out” of an event for a short period of time to jump into an automobile together to find the best local ice cream shop in every city that hosted a national genealogy event. We usually succeeded.

Bob Szucs passed away on April 23. His obituary mentions his wife Lou, his daughter Juliana (also well-known in the genealogy community), three other daughters, and ten grandchildren. It also lists his many professional accomplishments. I never knew that Bob held a number of patents. He didn’t talk much about his many accomplishments.

The Birth Certificate of Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana of Cambridge

You won’t see many birth certificates like this one, at least not in my family. The father and mother of the newborn child have occupations listed as “prince” and “princess.”

Click on the image above to view a larger version. Board Member Dave Goldberg Dies in Freak Accident

Dave Goldberg was a high-energy individual with many talents. After graduating magna cum laude from Harvard and spending a few years at consulting firm Bain & Company and at Capitol Records, Goldberg struck out on his own in the early 1990s. He founded Launch Media, one of the first companies to venture into streaming music online. He then became chief executive of SurveyMonkey in 2009 and is credited with taking it from a 12-employee company to a 500-employee enterprise valued at $2 billion.

Goldberg later became a member of the Board of Directors of “For someone who was involved in so many things, there was never a time that I felt a call or e-mail to Dave was an inconvenience to him,” said Tim Sullivan, chief executive of (According to Sullivan, Goldberg was a user long before he joined the company. He liked to explore his family history with his mother, Paula.)

Kim and Khloe Kardashian Visit their Ancestors’ Homeland

I wrote about the Kardashian family’s genealogy earlier at This family certainly is not my favorite group of personalities but I find the story of their ancestors’ hardships and persecution fascinating, regardless of the antics of present-day family members. Kim and Khloe Kardashian also seem interested as they visited their ancestors’ homeland of Armenia this week.

Ancestry’s Employee Number One, Retires: Ode to Lou Szucs

One of the greats of the genealogy world is retiring. Lou Szucs say she is going to use her free time to work on her own genealogy, something that has been difficult to do as she was busy being a vice-president of Ancestry. She joined the company in 1982 as employee number one and has helped convert the company from a tiny publisher of genealogy books into the online powerhouse it is today.

I was going to write a tribute to Lou for this newsletter. Then I read the tribute written by Kristie Wells in the Ancestry Blog. I cannot write anything better than that.

I strongly recommend you read Ancestry’s Employee Number One, Retires: Ode to Lou Szucs at

Noreen Patricia Guether, R.I.P

Sad news: long-time genealogist and subscriber to this newsletter Noreen Patricia Guether passed away on Saturday in Long Branch, NJ after a brave battle with lung cancer that spread to her spine and brain. Her obituary may be found at

The Obituary of Captain Donald Alexander Malcolm Jr.

Captain Donald Alexander Malcolm Jr., 60, died Feb. 28, 2015, nestled in the bosom of his family, while smoking, drinking whiskey and telling lies. He died from complications resulting from being stubborn, refusing to go to the doctor, and raising hell for six decades. Stomach cancer also played a minor role in his demise.

His full obituary may be found at

Ancestry Appoints Kendall Hulet Senior Vice President of Product Management

The following press release was written by

PROVO, Utah, March 3, 2015 — Ancestry, the world’s largest online family history resource, today announced the appointment of company veteran Kendall Hulet to the position of Senior Vice President of Product Management. Hulet will assume responsibilities for the global product organization and its efforts to make family history more fun and accessible to millions around the world. Hulet is succeeding Eric Shoup, who recently departed Ancestry to pursue new business opportunities.

National Genealogical Society Appoints Edward Grandi as the New Executive Director

The following announcement was written by the folks at the (U.S.) National Genealogical Society:

ARLINGTON, VA – 19 February 2015. The Board of Directors of the National Genealogical Society (NGS) announced the appointment of Edward Grandi as the Society’s Executive Director. Grandi joins NGS to help further their mission to promote genealogical excellence by helping enthusiasts improve their skills. His work will focus on the NGS growing portfolio of specialized family history learning resources, many of which can be accessed from anywhere in the world.

NGS offers a full spectrum of educational opportunities, including its conference, in-depth publications, digital media and cloud-based, online courses from leading experts. Researchers can select from tailored educational programs to learn how to work smarter at every level and search for the right records, which helps them discover more about their ancestors.

Timothy Field Beard, R.I.P.

Timothy Field Beard passed away recently. He served as Librarian in the Local History and Genealogical Division of the New York Public Library and was formerly Director of the Minor Memorial Library and the Hodge Memorial Library in Roxbury, Connecticut. He is the author of How to Find Your Family Roots (McGraw-Hill, 1977) and is a Fellow the American Society of Genealogists and the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society. Mr. Beard was also Past President of the Connecticut Society of Genealogists.

How Kim Kardashian’s Ancestors Escaped from the Armenian Genocide

I normally don’t pay attention to articles about the ancestry or the relatives of celebrities. However, a recent article about the horrors endured by the Kardashian family 100 years ago strikes me as a notable exception.

The family fled Tsarist Russia in the early twentieth century at a time when many of their relatives and neighbors were being slaughtered solely because of their ethnicity.

Director of NIGR Appointed

The following announcement was written by the National Institute on Genealogical Research:

National Institute on Genealogical Research (NIGR) Board of Directors Appoints New Director

Malissa Ruffner, J.D., CG

The board of directors of the National Institute on Genealogical Research (NIGR) is pleased to announce the appointment of Malissa Ruffner, J.D., CGSM as director of the institute, effective immediately. She will assume responsibility for future programs, the next to be held in July 2016. The National Archives has expressed strong support for the continuation of NIGR and will work with the new director to assure the institute’s success in future years.

Connecticut Woman has the Last laugh by Writing Her Own Obituary

Norma R. Brewer of Fairfield, Connecticut, passed away recently. Her obituary in the Connecticut Post says:

“Norma Rae Flicker Brewer, a resident of Fairfield, passed away while climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. She never realized her life goal of reaching the summit, but made it to the base camp. Her daughter, Donna, her dog, Mia, and her cats, came along at the last minute. There is suspicion that Mrs. Brewer died from hypothermia, after Mia ate Mrs. Brewer’s warm winter boots and socks.”

Famous Kin of Thomas Jefferson

Click on the above image to view the full sized infographic on the Crestview site.

Crestleaf has an interesting infographic that helps confirm the idea that everyone is related to most everyone else. The infographic shows many of the notable Americans who are related to Thomas Jefferson, ranging from George Washington to Paris Hilton.

Of course, millions of other, less notable, people are also related to Thomas Jefferson and, through him, to all the others shown in the Crestleaf infographic at

Patricia Shawker, R.I.P.

Click on the above image to view a larger version

Sad news. The following was written by Claire Bettag and Marie Melchiori:

With profound sadness we learned that our colleague and friend, Patricia Shawker, CG, FNGS, died Friday, 16 January 2015, after a two-and-a half-year battle with cancer. Patty’s husband, Tom, also our genealogical colleague, has asked us to reach out to the larger community with this unexpected news. The funeral will be on Saturday 24 January, noon until 2PM at Gasch’s Funeral Home, 4739 Baltimore Avenue, Hyattsville, MD, 20781. An obituary will be published later this week and will be forwarded to you at that time.

The Truth Behind George Clooney’s Irish Roots

The Irish ancestors of Hollywood star George Clooney were victims of grotesque human rights abuses that drove them out of their small cottage on the Kilkenny Tipperary border, the Sunday Independent has revealed.

George Clooney’s ancestor, Nicholas Clooney, and his siblings were driven out of post-Famine Ireland by the land-owning Irish around Windgap, Co Kilkenny. These wealthy Irish were involved in the “cleansing” of the Clooneys and their kith from their homesteads in the three years after the Great Famine ended in 1852.

After the Famine, during which a million died from starvation and disease and another million emigrated, there was a “survival of the fittest” battle among the natives as land ownership was consolidated. In the eyes of big farmers, their odious “middlemen” and the landlords, cottiers like the Clooneys had no rights and were effectively disposable.

And they used crooked law to get rid of the Clooneys and their neighbours.


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